The Keeper’s House at the Royal Academy opens this month
The Keeper’s House was the 18th century residence of the keeper of the Royal Academy art schools. Set in a corner of the Burlington House courtyard in Piccadilly, the house has been opened up and reimagined for the 21st century as a place to eat, drink and relax amongst art from the Academy’s collection.
Previously, Friends of the RA had one room to meet in, and with a membership of 95,000, space for 100 didn’t go far. Now there are bars, a restaurant, a coffee lounge and a garden for Friends and their guests to use exclusively during the day, and then open to all from 4pm. It’s a great gem to know about in the heart of London, one of those places which allow views to the backs of previously secret buildings.
Architects Long and Kentish have excavated forgotten spaces and carved out an intimate restaurant in the cellar. Decorated with sculptural casts originally collected for students to practice drawing, it’s now the setting for the best of British cuisine. A mixture of old and contemporary features throughout the house, with original beams and exposed brickwork amidst smooth modern walls, creating a real sense of atmosphere. A central glass lift makes an architectural feature of allowing access to all floors.
The garden space, designed by Tom Stuart-Smith, turns an unlikely brick backyard into a little oasis, with freshly planted palm trees and creepers set to spread over its strange central incumbent, an electricity sub-station, now with a green roof.
Interior design by David Chipperfield aims to achieve a comfortable and modern feel, with blocks of colour, recessed lighting and a variety of seating. It’s an intelligent set of solutions for a multiple use arena.
The outstanding menu of snacks and meals will make the Keeper’s House a favourite London venue. Oliver Peyton of Peyton and Byrne oversees a modern British menu of seasonal, carefully sourced ingredients. Brown Bread Mousse, Rosehip Jelly, Toast Caramel is a dish that evokes the best golden days of autumn.
The RA’s greatest asset is of course the art, and every room of the Keeper’s House is hung with contemporary works, some of which are available to buy. The staircase is crammed with photographs of RA artists, and there is a chance you may well rub shoulders with the real thing, as many artists such as Grayson Perry and Tracy Emin are involved in Academy projects.
Photos: Andrei Grosu
The Keeper’s House at the Royal Academy is open to the public from 30th September 2013, for further information visit here.